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Japanese Startup Develops Genetically Engineered Pigs for Organ Transplants

PorMedTec, a Japanese startup, has successfully delivered three piglets that have been genetically engineered to have organs suitable for transplantation into humans. This breakthrough brings Japan one step closer to implementing interspecies organ transplants for patients.


Pigs in a Farm
Pigs in a Farm

Hiroshi Nagashima, the representative director at PorMedTec and a professor at Meiji University, expressed his excitement about the potential of this technology. The piglets were born from a mother that received implanted eggs. PorMedTec obtained edited pig cells from the U.S. biomedical company eGenesis in September. They then inserted the cell nuclei into egg cells, which were later implanted into the uterus, resulting in the birth of cloned pigs. These genetically engineered donor organs from pigs are designed to be compatible with the human immune system, reducing the risk of rejection.


The success of this technology has been demonstrated in previous experiments, where a pig kidney developed by eGenesis was transplanted into a monkey, keeping it alive for two years. PorMedTec plans to conduct clinical tests for interspecies transplants between pigs and humans by fiscal year 2025. Prior to that, experimental transplants will be performed on monkeys and other test animals.


The first target for clinical application is kidney transplants, as there is a severe shortage of donors in Japan. Currently, around 350,000 people in Japan undergo dialysis due to kidney failure, which requires frequent hospital visits and lengthy treatments. This places a significant burden on patients. The annual medical costs for dialysis in Japan amount to 1.6 trillion yen (US$10.7 billion), accounting for approximately 4% of all medical costs in the country.


Receiving a kidney transplant would greatly improve the quality of life for patients, reducing hospital visits and restrictions on daily activities. However, the waiting list for a kidney transplant in Japan is approximately 14,000 names long, with an average wait time of 15 years. Many patients unfortunately pass away before receiving a transplant.


 

Japanese startup PorMedTec has successfully delivered genetically engineered piglets with organs suitable for human transplantation.


The piglets were born from a mother that received implanted eggs, and the technology brings Japan closer to implementing interspecies organ transplants.


PorMedTec obtained edited pig cells from U.S. biomedical company eGenesis and inserted them into egg cells, resulting in the birth of cloned pigs.


The genetically engineered donor organs from pigs are designed to be compatible with the human immune system, reducing the risk of rejection.


Clinical tests for interspecies transplants between pigs and humans are planned for fiscal year 2025, with kidney transplants being the first target for application.


Source: Nikkei Asia

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